Label to label: Damian lazarus interviewed by crosstown rebels label managerleon oakey
Damian Lazarus's Crosstown Rebels reaches an epic 10 years this very year… in case you hadn't heard already! R$N remembers like it was only yesterday buying CRM3; Supreme Bachelor's S&M – none other than Mr Jacques Lu Cont under another pseudonym no less…
Over the past decade Crosstown has morphed and mutated into much more than a highly respected record label now encompassing a TV series, a mystical festival and a philosophy for a 'collective of free spirits'. A pinnacle of ever-evolving quality, Mr Lazarus is the king of reinventing the current landscape of music across the globe – the puppet master, he's been referred to on more than one occasion. With iconic records and mind tripping, off-the-grid events, they're defined by a tight-knit 'global family'.
Caught in a worldly and unrelenting pursuit of fun and alternative ways of setting fire to their passions Crosstown has been marking the 10 year occasion with a world tour of epic proportions. Touching down in London this weekend we thought the best way to find out from Damian about the last 10 years would be to get Crosstown label manager Leon Oakey to interview Mr Lazarus… below is the fruits of their Skypeisms…
Leon Oakey: Damian…Are you there?
Damian Lazarus: Here I am
How was your day?
DL: You must be knackered, what time did you finish mastering Get Lost IV?
LO: Midnight sounding great though.
DL: Im checking it after we finish this – I played it in the car on the way to Jerusalem yesterday with Art Dept and Ash (Subb-An) They loved it
LO: Right shall we begin
LO: Hi Damian, nice to meet you. So Ive done some research on wikipedia and you seem quite popular, youre a DJ right?
DL: Hahahaha. Yes, I spin!!
LO: 10 years of Crosstown Rebels, and youre celebrating with Rebel Rave on the 27th April in London. Did you foresee you getting this far when you made those first tentative steps of setting up Crosstown?
DL: I never thought about it but some of the labels that were inspiring me at the time were well into it by then, labels like Kompakt, Perlon, BPitch, Gigolo… They had all released loads of records over many years so I guess I had in the back of my mind I was starting a long term project
Im surprised we are here 10 years later though
LO: Did you have a long-term game plan at the time?
DL: Not really but I knew it was important to find special artists and try and work with them over a long period of time, but at the very beginning it was more a case of releasing a few one off records with various people and then seeing what was going to work and what wasnt. Musically I knew I wanted the label to always push the boundaries, stay edgy and underground and maintain a very open minded direction
When did u first come across the label? Were we friends then?
LO: Yep. You approached me about running it when I was running Classic at the time. Matt Styles was doing some work for me then.
DL: Of course – I tried to poach you off Luke!!
LO: And it finally worked out that way!
DL: Wed been hanging out in the Classic office every Friday night after work
When City Rockers was next door to you in West London
Matthew Styles was a brilliant label manager for Crosstown by the way
The old goat…
LO: Are you sometimes taken aback at the success and notoriety of the label? From those burgeoning days when Styles managed the label to it's latest conception?
DL: Yeah massively. I had had enough experience in the years before setting it up to kind of know what I was doing but so much of running a label successfully boils down to the other people you put around yourself. Matthew and then you have been invaluable in the labels success
I really couldnt have done any of this without either of you
LO: Thanks very much So with the exponential growth of the label, the new Rebellion off shoot, Rebel Rave, the agency and Day Zero, do you see your self as the Richard Branson of Rave?
DL: He seems like a very nice chap
Not at all though
I dont think all the things you mention make me an entrepreneur in that way, I see them all as a natural progression for someone who has had to adapt to the ever changing (decreasing) record industry
But on the other hand I always like to keep myself busy, continually juggling loads of things. But they are all connected
Do you think I do too much?
LO: Not at all I was remarking upon you boundless energy and enthusiasm for new ventures, it's very admirable
So what can we expect on Saturday night's 10 year rebel rave.. Any secret surprises?
DL: Well the main thing I'm really excited about it is bringing some of the old Crosstown faces back. Its been a while since we had Kiki & Silversurfer, Styles and Dinky, Rob Mello and Pier Bucci play – all these guys were so influential in the beginning for us and I guess in a way these guys kind of moved aside for a while when we brought in people like Art Department, Jamie, Deniz, Maceo, etc. So it will be really cool to welcome them back – I mean they are all playing and making amazing stuff; its just been a while since we all worked together
There will be surprises of course…like getting you to mc….up for it?
DL: Youre a pretty solid jungle MC Im actually really excited about seeing some faces from the past mingling with the current raving masses. I have a really good feeling about this party.
LO: Me too.. It should be great fun! You and the label have championed many new artists and sounds over the years, you have a deft ear for picking up on talent earlier.. Where do you see the sound going in the near future?
DL: Well you and I discuss this quite a lot dont we? a while ago we discussed the return of the garage sound and look at that now, its everywhere
LO: Rave forecasting is a fine sport!
DL: ha-haand the weather in Lincoln tonight will be mainly hardcore! You know me; I'm always trying to take it deeper and trippier – add a touch of melody and vocals and were rollin!
LO: So in relation to that, the scene has changed so much in 10 years.. How instrumental do you see yourself and Crosstown in that?
DL: I think we have continually been at the forefront of how our scene has developed but Im certainly not arrogant enough to say we are responsible for it. You know the great thing, if not the best thing about what we do, is to develop and maintain this family of artists. all the guys chip in with their opinions and their new sounds, we all seem to grow and build together and sometimes one person will go one step further and make something so fresh that it seems that many others follow that route and collectively we all help to make something out of nothing, if you know what I mean?
LO: Exactly it's a meeting of like-minded minds.. So what can we expect forthcoming on Crosstown….
DL: Well if you look at our schedule….let me ask you, what are the things you are most looking forward to from the music Ive played you?
LO: The TEED mixed CD sounded ace when mastering yesterday, Matthew Jonson's album is brilliant as well. Ive only heard half of Ali's album, and that's sounding great. We've some killer singles forthcoming I couldn't pick a favourite though!
DL: Apart from that lot, there is the forthcoming new albums from Subb an, Francesca, Art Department and David Terranova, plus new material from Amirali, Fur Coat and loads of others so ill be keeping you busy, speaking of which, what for you is the best thing about working for Crosstown?
LO: The drive to push the sonic envelope further. Discovering, championing and developing artists, and the sense of creating a fully functioning, productive, creative label.
DL: and whats the worst thing about working for me? be honest
LO: it can take you a while to listen to demos that I am really excited about
DL: But you understand how busy I am, and I always get around to it
LO: Anyway aside from all that, in the Hollywood version of the label, who would play us?
DL: Dead or alive?
LO: either.. It's really going to happen isn't it?
DL: Ha-ha, you never know, how about…..Ben Kingsley plays me and Ray Winstone plays you or in the Muppet version I'm played by Gonzo and youre played by The Count from Sesame Street
LO: Hilarious Speaking of which If you weren't doing this, would you be doing puppetering?
DL: I did a good puppet show at that wedding last year right?
LO: Indeed.. It could be a possible substitute vocation.. If you need a DJ career break?
DL: cant see myself taking a break just yet but that doesnt mean I wouldnt entertain an job interview with Jim Hensons studio. Ive always loved puppets in fact I almost bought one in the market today, it was a witch, real evil looking one but one of her hands was broken and would have been impossible to scare kids with one arm, so I left it – who wants a witch with one arm?
LO: Right it's been lovely speaking you, but I must dash Lovejoy is on.. See you next Saturday
DL: Right-o, thanks for taking time out of your very busy schedule to speak to me, Hahahaha. love you!
LO: Love you too D. See you later
Damian Lazarus and the rest of the Rebels touch down in London this weekend for 10 Years of Crosstown Rebels at Great Suffolk St. Full details on this link.